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7 Best Photo Editors for Macs in 2022 [Incl. M1 Macs]

Last Updated on May. 13, 2022 – by David Morgan
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Best Photo Editing Software for Mac

As an avid photographer, you go through a lot of trouble to set up the perfect photo. You may spend a lot of time preparing your subject, testing out various camera angles, and finding frames within your environment.

However, these measures may not be sufficient to establish a narrative or convey a certain mood. You may need to edit your photos using a powerful and feature-rich photo editor.

Below, we take an in-depth look at the best photo editing software for Mac users. If you want to personalize and enhance your images, continue reading to learn more.

Top 3 Photo Editors for Mac Snapshot

PhotoDirector Logo

1. PhotoDirector 365 - Best Overall

PhotoDirector 365 offers a vast selection of advanced features and templates that are easy enough for any level of photographer. Add to that a host of photo management tools and an affordable price tag, and it’s obvious why PhotoDirector is the overall best photo editor for Mac on our list. Detailed Review >

Affinity Photo Logo

2. Affinity Photo - Best for Layer Editing

Affinity Photo is another beginner-friendly and affordable choice for the best photo editor for Mac. While not as robust as PhotoDirector, it offers precision tools and high-quality output. Detailed Review >

VSDC Logo

3. Photoshop - Best for Professionals

Photoshop is another of our top choices for the best photo editor for Mac, a professional tool synonymous with photo manipulation. It comes with a wide range of photo editing tools for limitless creative options. Detailed Review >

What is a Photo Editor?

A photo editor digitally manipulates your photos to fit your specific requirements. Photo editing software generally falls under three categories: beginner, enthusiast, and professional.

Photo editing products that come free with your computer or mobile device typically fall under the beginner group, even if they offer various editing features. Apple Photos and Google Photos are examples of beginner software.

Photo editors for photography enthusiasts are often paid products offering various essential editing tools, such as cropping, noise removal, and color adjustment. This type of photo editing software can provide exceptional value, but ensure that the mid-tier software you're considering offers the tools you need.

The professional category features the best photo editors for Mac. These products offer high-end workflow efficiency and layer editing features. If you need unique features, such as video-to-photo conversion tools and 360-degree photo editing, consider Mac photo software in this category.

7 Best Photo Editors for Macs in 2022

1. PhotoDirector 365 - Best Overall

PhotoDirector Interface

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 10/10

Advanced Editing Features: 10/10

Key Features:

  1. AI-powered sky replacement
  2. Lightray and sparkle effects
  3. Photo animation 
  4. Advanced color replacement

PhotoDirector 365 is the best photo editing software for Mac on our list. It offers a combination of professional-level Photoshop and Lightroom features in one application. The intuitive user interface of this software makes it possible to jump in and start editing right away, even if you are new to the product. Using this program’s guided editing tools, you can enhance photos with touch-up tools, add watermarks and apply AI-style effects. This best photo editor for Mac includes some unique extras exclusive to PhotoDirector, such as 360-degree photo editing and innovative video-to-photo creation tools.

The organization and workflow tools you get with PhotoDirector include DSLR and RAW format support, background music libraries for slideshow creations, and OpenCL technology optimization. With PhotoDirector, you also get a face tag feature, GIF importing as a multi-image sequence, and GPS photo logs. The layering tools you get with the best photo editing software for Mac will let you separate the various elements of an image before applying adjustments. It includes the latest layering features, including AI object segmentation, snap alignment, layer filtering, and enhanced customizable bevel.

PhotoDirector is a high-end photo editing software offering all the features a professional photographer may need. If you are a beginner photographer or photo editor, this product is easy to use from the get-go, and the guided edits make the platform easy to learn, which is why PhotoDirector is our pick for the best photo editing software for Mac.

Pros
  • Full of advanced features
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Intuitive user interface
Cons
  • Can use up a lot of hard drive space

To start creating high-quality images using the best photo editor for Mac, download PhotoDirector 365 today.


2. Affinity Photo - Best for Layer Editing

Affinity Photo Interface

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 9/10

Advanced Editing Features: 7/10

Key Features:

  1. Noise reduction
  2. RAW editing
  3. 360-degree image editing
  4. HDR merge

According to our research, Affinity Photo is the best photo editor for Mac for layer editing. Affinity offers unlimited layers, as well as mask and clipping layers, live blend modes, and non-destructive live filters. Filters can be erased, masked, or reordered after they are applied. 

Affinity offers an extensive library of brushes for ultra-precise selections, making it one of the best photo editors for Mac. Other features include skin retouch, blemish removal, panorama stitching, and batch processing.  

Affinity Photo offers fewer tools than Photoshop, but the ones it does have work better. Affinity is also cheaper and easier to use than PhotoShop, edging it out on our list of best photo editing software for Mac. But as far as beginner-friendly and affordable software goes, it can’t compete with PhotoDirector’s many advanced features. 

Pros
  • Low learning curve
  • Unlimited layers
Cons
  • Fewer tools than similar software
  • No design templates included

3. Photoshop - Best for Professionals

Adobe Photoshop Interface

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 8/10

Advanced Editing Features: 10/10

Key Features:

  1. Background swap
  2. Advanced color editing
  3. Digital painting tools
  4. Photo blending

Adobe Photoshop is synonymous with photo editing and a viable option for Mac users. It is the best photo editor for Mac for professionals because it offers a wide range of robust editing applications, and its retouching, masking, and layering tools are among the best available to photographers. This product also offers extensive filters and brushes and 3D design functionality.

As you become more familiar with this software, you can customize your workspace to work on unique projects. With Photoshop, you can access different preset workspaces, which lets you remove the tools you don't need for your project. The workspace options available on one of the best photo editing software for Mac include Essentials Editing, Graphics and Web, 3D, and Photography.

Photoshop is a viable option for professional photographers and designers who need all the bells and whistles of image editing and can afford the high price. However, the interface is significantly more complex than PhotoDirector and requires a lot of time and patience to learn.

Pros
  • Powerful photo editor for professionals
  • Free trial available
Cons
  • Steep learning curve
  • Expensive monthly subscription

4. Lightroom - Best for Photo Management

Lightroom Interface

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 8/10

Advanced Editing Features: 8/10

Key Features:

  1. RAW file editing
  2. Batch processing
  3. Presets for fast color correction
  4. History tool keeps track of every edit

Adobe Lightroom is a user-friendly alternative to Photoshop with a relatively simplistic interface. We’ve found it to be the best photo editor for Mac for photo management. When editing an image using Lightroom, you have quick and convenient access to your image library, which lets you browse your photos while you edit. Images are automatically analyzed and tagged with keywords, and the image search function will filter by file type, camera used, location, and more.

Advanced photo editing features of this best photo editing software for Mac include lens and camera corrections, repair and blurring tools, professional filters, and face detection. The brush and gradient adjustment features are also helpful in enhancing photographs.

Lightroom is a responsive and powerful editing solution for photographers, and it is one of the more straightforward tools to use. However, Lightroom doesn't offer layer editing. If you want to try different edits, play with transparency, or create multi-exposures, consider one of our top 3 best photo editing software for Mac instead. 

Pros
  • Exceptional photo cataloging features
  • Beginner-friendly
Cons
  • No layer editing
  • Expensive monthly subscription

5. Pixelmator Pro - Best for Digital Artists

Pixelmator Interface

Compatibility: Mac

Overall Rating: 8/10

Advanced Editing Features: 7/10

Key Features:

  1. Replace color tool
  2. RAW photo editing
  3. Nondestructive edits

Pixelmator Pro is a professional-level software and the best photo editor for Mac for digital artists. Illustrate with a large selection of vector tools, including over 200 brand new artist-designed vector shapes in categories such as symbols, science, and activities. We found the vector tools allowed us to create resolution-independent designs with customizable smart shapes and offered support for SVG vector file format. It also comes with dual-texture brushes and a cutting-edge painting engine.

As one of the best photo editing software for Mac, Pixelmator Pro comes with an ML-Enhance mode, which uses machine learning to make color adjustments, saving you valuable time. Using the machine learning tools, you can remove or move objects and replace them with other image elements, such as a background. You also get access to all the basic photo editing features, such as filters, effects, color settings adjustments, cropping, and resizing

This product lands in the middle of our Best Photo Editor for Mac list because it offers some high-end features at a good price and its full macOS integration makes it a good choice for Mac users. However, Pixelmator Pro lacks some of the key features you need for photo editing found in our first four offerings, such as focus stacking or panorama stitching.

Pros
  • Single-window layout with user-friendly interface
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • No HDR support

6. DxO PhotoLab - Best for Lens Corrections

DxO PhotoLab Interface

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 7/10

Advanced Editing Features: 7/10

Key Features:

  1. Superb RAW photo processing
  2. Content-aware edits
  3. Keyword tagging and face recognition
  4. Spot removal tools

DxO PhotoLab is the best photo editing software for Mac for users needing lens corrections. The program’s automatic lens corrections compensate for every possible lens fault, such as distortion, sharpness, chromatic aberrations, vignetting, and more. DxO PhotoLab has precise handling of control points with adjustable sensitivity levels and local adjustment options.

The software is also one of the best photo editors for Mac because of its deep learning AI technology called DxO DeepPRIME. We found the technology can demosaic, denoise, and dehaze images at top-notch quality, and can even fix old photos thought to be unusable. 

DxO PhotoLab is a worthy option for professional photographers with extensive experience in post-processing. However, the software's interface is not beginner-friendly, which is a significant disadvantage when compared to the best photo editing software for Mac on our list. And while it has fantastic denoise and auto repair tools, it lacks other photo editing features. 

Pros
  • Excellent auto-correction
  • Fast image processing
Cons
  • Not user-friendly
  • Expensive

7. Capture One - Best for Color Adjustments

Capture One Interface

Image from dcfever.

Compatibility: Mac, Windows

Overall Rating: 6/10

Advanced Editing Features: 5/10

Key Features:

  1. Keyword management
  2. RAW image converter
  3. Tethered photography
  4. Batch editing

Capture One is the best photo editor for Mac for color adjustments. We found our photos had incredible image quality and color accuracy thanks to true-to-life color processing. Capture One’s advanced color editor offers eight color ranges and allows you to edit only specific colors in an image. With this software, you can accurately depict skin tone quickly with the Skin Tone Editor

Apply up to 16 layers with Capture One. A mask brush allows you to make a precise mask for targeted editing or object removal. Capture One includes 3 style packs including instant looks created by pro photographers. We liked the style brush, which allowed us to apply a filter to a targeted area, then use sliders to change the intensity.

Capture One has precise and powerful tools that yield high-quality results. Its features work very well, there just aren’t very many of them, especially compared to the top software on our list. Its steep learning curve and high price keep it at the bottom of our list of best photo editing software for Mac.

Pros
  • Fast import speed
  • High-quality output
Cons
  • Few features
  • Steep learning curve

Best Photo Editor for Mac Comparison Chart

Software PhotoDirector 365 Affinity Photo Photoshop Lightroom Pixelmator Pro DxO PhotoLab Capture One
OS Mac, Windows Mac, Windows Mac, Windows Mac, Windows Mac Mac, Windows Mac, Windows
Beginner-friendly Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
Layer Editing Yes, including AI object segmentation, snap alignment, layer filtering, enhanced customizable bevel, plus split and combine color layers, and 27 layer blending modes Unlimited layers, mask and clipping live blend modes, nondestructive filters and liquify layer Nondestructive layer masks with content-aware fill, vectors and gradients None Nondestructive effects layers, 27 blending modes, color adjustment layers, and layer styles None Apply up to 16 layers with precision masking tools
Panorama Stitching Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Video-to-Photo Tools Yes No No No No No No
Free Download
Free Download
Secure Download
Download Download Download Download Download Download

PhotoDirector 365 vs

OS

Mac, Windows

-

Beginner-friendly

Yes

-

Layer Editing

Yes, including AI object segmentation, snap alignment, layer filtering, enhanced customizable bevel, plus split and combine color layers, and 27 layer blending modes

-

Panorama Stitching

Yes

-

Video-to-Photo Tools

Yes

-


How to Edit a Photo With PhotoDirector

Here is a step-by-step guide for basic photo editing with PhotoDirector, the best photo editing software for Mac. 

Download PhotoDirector for free below and follow along: 

How to Crop a Photo

  1. Click + next to Projects. Choose Import Photos, then choose the photo you want to edit and click Open
  2. Click Adjustment, then Manual
  3. Click the Crop icon under Regional Adjustment Tools. 
  4. PhotoDirector Interface - Crop Image

Crop photo as needed by moving the corners of the crop box around your image. 

How to Add a Filter to a Photo

  1. Click Adjustment, then Presets.
  2. PhotoDirector Interface - Filter Presets
  3. Under Default Presets, choose the filter you want to use by opening the various filter folders and clicking on each one to preview. 

How to Add Effects to a Photo

  1. Click Guided, then Photo Effects.
  2. Click on the effect you want to add, then browse the options within each category. 
  3. PhotoDirector Interface - Photo Effects

You can click on as many effects as you wish and see how the effect looks in the Preview Window. The effects will not be permanently applied until you save your image. 

How to Produce/Export a Photo

  1. Once you have finished editing your photo, find and choose the Export Selected Photos icon under the Preview Window
  2. If the menu under the Preview Window is hidden, go to the upper left of the Preview and click on the icon labeled Photo Viewer & Browser

    PhotoDirector Interface - Export Image
  3. The Photo Export Menu will pop up. Choose Basic, then fill in the Export Destination, Name, Format, and Size. If you need to fill in Metadata or create a Watermark, you can do that under the Advanced tab. 
  4. Click Export.

For more information on photo editing with the best photo editing software for Mac, click here

Download the Best Photo Editor for Mac for Free

As a Mac user, you can choose from hundreds of photo editing software options, which can be overwhelming. Many will offer advanced features with a steep learning curve and high price. Others will be affordable and beginner-friendly but offer a limited amount of editing tools. When selecting the best photo editor for Mac, you need to consider your unique requirements to create the perfect results.

For almost all photo editing requirements, you’ll find PhotoDirector 365 to be the best photo editor for Mac. This product offers all the editing tools you could ever need, including a comprehensive range of photo adjustment and layer editing features. With so many advanced tools, PhotoDirector is surprisingly beginner-friendly and affordable, making it the only editing software on our list to offer that trifecta! 

Download PhotoDirector today and make the most of your photographic talents.

Best Photo Editor for Mac FAQ

1. What are the Best Free Photo Editors for Mac?

The 5 Best Free Photo Editors for Mac are:

  1. PhotoDirector Essential
  2. GIMP
  3. Fotor Photo Editor
  4. Pixelmator
  5. Photoscape X

For more information on the above photo editors, click here.

2. What are the Best Photo Editing Software for Windows?

The top 5 photo editors for Windows are:

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Photoshop
  3. SkylumLuminar 4
  4. DxOPhotoLab
  5. Lightroom

For more information on the above software, click here.

3. What are the Best Photo Editing Apps for iPhone & Android?

The top photo editing apps for iPhone and Android are:

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Pixlr
  3. PicsArt
  4. Snapseed
  5. Adobe Photoshop Camera

For more information about the above apps, click here.

4. What Features Should I Look for in the Best Photo Editor for Mac?

The top ten features you should look for in the best photo editor for Mac are:

  1. User-friendliness
  2. Organizational tools
  3. Color correction and filters
  4. AI-powered tools
  5. Content-aware editing
  6. Photo animation
  7. Beauty retouching
  8. Photo effects
  9. Sky replacement
  10. Overlay abilities

If you’re looking for the best photo editor for Mac that checks all of these boxes, we recommend PhotoDirector.

5. How Much Does a Photo Editor for Mac cost?

Photo editors come in a wide range of costs from free to hundreds of dollars for professional solutions. If you’re looking for a quality photo editor you should plan to spend around $50 a year for a subscription or $100 for a one-time purchase.

6. How much does a photo editor for Mac cost?

Photo editors come in a wide range of cost going from free to hundreds of dollars for professional solutions. If you’re looking for a quality photo editor you should plan to spend around $50 a year for a subscription or $100 for a one time purchase.

7. Should I Pay for a Photo Editor for Mac?

This is totally dependent on your needs and what kind of editing you want to do. If you're only wanting to make simple adjustments like cropping, rotating, or flipping, a basic free editor should be fine.

But if you want to create photo effects, you will benefit from paying for a quality photo editor. Some free editors offer advanced features like the free version of PhotoDirector, but that is the exception to the rule. Most are usually clunky and don't create the best results.

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